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Bellar co-leads after round one of boys' golf state finals

TABLE TOPPER: Peru's Kash Bellar hits a chip shot from just outside the green on hole No. 18 during Tuesday's first round of the IHSAA Boys' Golf State Finals. Bellar took a par on the hole, finishing his first nine holes at even par, while shooting two-under on his second nine holes to finish with a round of 70 and sits tied atop the individual leaderboard with Carmel's Nick Dentino.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

CARMEL – Kash Bellar will begin Wednesday’s second and final round of the IHSAA Boys’ Golf State Finals from the top of the leaderboard.

The Peru sophomore fired a two-under round of 70 at Prairie View GC, leaving the Tiger No. 1 tied with Carmel’s Nick Dentino on top of the 100-man strong field with both two strokes ahead of the chasing pack.

Peru head coach Clint Mathews said it was nearly a picture-perfect round of golf.

“We couldn’t ask for anything more,” Mathews said. “Kash played a solid, intelligent round, avoiding the big mistakes out there on the course and putting himself in the right spots to make birdies.

“He had four birdies and two bogeys with the four birdies the fewest number he could have made based on how well he hit the ball off the tee. He plotted his way around the course really well today.”

Bellar’s round began auspiciously with a bogey on No. 10 but a birdie on No. 12 quickly helped even things out and a string of pars saw the sophomore end the back side of the course at even par.

The front nine got off to a better start as, following pars on holes No. 1 and 2, Bellar bagged back-to-back birdies on the par-five No.3 and the par-three No. 4 before giving a stroke back on No. 5.

A birdie at No. 7 and two pars helped Bellar to finish the last nine holes in 34 and two-under par for the round.

Mathews said Bellar’s shot placement was superb with a fair weather day ensuring there were no surprises once the ball was in the air.

“We came in with a game plan after playing a practice round on the course Monday,” Mathews noted. “Kash knew the lines he wanted to hit down and the clubs to use.

“The big question we had was whether or not the wind would blow as much as it did Monday but it was pretty benign today. He stuck to the game plan perfectly today, knowing which holes to attack and which holes to lay off and play for pars on, all of which he did very well.”

Dentino carded an impressive six birdies in his round of 70 but two bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 9 brought the Greyhound senior back to the pack.

In the team race, there are three frontrunners as hosts Carmel lead with a team total of 299, followed by Center Grove on 303 and Noblesville on 305.

Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, winner of the Plymouth Regional, sits seventh overall with a team total of 315 while Penn came in at 322 and Warsaw shot 328 as a team.

The other individual advancers from the Plymouth Regional struggled with DeKalb’s Bailey Clark the best of the bunch with a 12-over round of 84, followed by Columbia City’s Alex Hedrick on 86, Kokomo’s Brandon Hansen on 87 and Homestead’s Adam DeLong on 88.

Bellar’s two playing partners, Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit’s Drew Wrightson and Indianapolis Cathedral’s Luke Mattingly, also finished well with Wrightson carding a par round of 72, tied for third-place with Noblesville’s Clay Merchant and Castle’s Adam Bratton, while Mattingly finished tied in 15th place with a three-over round of 75.

Former Peru No. 1 golfer Taylor Gardner is also a competitor in the field, playing for Tri-West, and finished in a tie for 21st place with a four-over round of 76.

Bellar will tee off Wednesday morning at 8:09 a.m. on hole No. 1 joined by Wrightson and Heritage Christian’s Drew Pickering, who finished tied for sixth with a one-over round of 73 Tuesday, as the leading threesome among individuals in the field.

Mathews said it would be tempting to keep track of where the tournament stood but said Bellar had to be concerned with how he was playing and let the chips fall where they may in the individual state title race. 

“It’ll be hard to do that,” Mathews said about ignoring the leaderboard. “That said, Kash knows it’s only halfway done and he’s got 18 more holes of golf to play.

“He played a good round today and it’s going to take another really good round Wednesday. He just needs to stick to the game plan, execute one shot at a time and he'll ends up where he ends up.

“He was hitting the ball well all day, he had a great mindset and we’re all excited for tomorrow.”